By Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Published by ABRAMS, May 1, 2012
288 pages (hardback)
This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance.
On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena's father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears. (NetGalley)
Poor Lena. Her father left when she was young and now she is displaying odd characteristics, like ridiculously long hands and feet. To make it even worse, Lena’s Mom’s Mom is certain that she is part goblin (something that was genetically passed down to her by her father). So, like an young lady in a YA novel who is confused about her identity, Lena takes off in search of answers. There were quite a few unexpected twists along the way as well as cute guys, political turmoil, and some crazy creatures.
There were things I REALLY liked about this book, and things I really did not like about this book. It’s definitely a good read, but I feel like Lena’s world could have been constructed better. For example, I was confused, at least at the start, about the setting. At first I thought it was set in the present, but then descriptions of people and clothing as well as some of the language proved that the book takes place in the past. Then I couldn’t figure out where the book took place. At first I thought it was Europe and then I thought it was a made up land, but then there were references to America so I never was quite sure. I kind of wish the book had either a completely made up setting or was a bit more specific from the get-go about when and where we were. With the setting and time period is so ambiguous, there were times I had difficulty getting into the book.
Overall I found The Peculiars to be a whimsical steampunk novel that incorporated fantasy, mystery, and romance. One of the greatest things about books is that they often take reality and things only an imagination could create and combine them into an engaging and adventurous tale. This is definitely a book that lets your mind take a vacation to a land long ago where it is possible to have wings or use science to save an entire race of people.
May 1st seems to be a popular date to release awesome books. I was already planning on heading to the bookstore to get two new releases that day for the library. Now I will definitely be getting The Peculiars and telling all my book-loving students that they HAVE to read it!